Ways to Grow Love: A Ryan Hart Story by Renée Watson, illustrated by Nina Mata

Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Ways to Grow Love (A Ryan Hart Story Book 2) - Kindle edition by Watson,  Renée, Mata, Nina. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Summary:  Ryan Hart is back in a story that mostly takes place during the summer between fourth and fifth grades.  Her mom is pregnant and money is tight, so the family has a low-key summer highlighted by visits to the library, a day at the amusement park, and a three-day church camp for Ryan and her older brother Ray.  Ryan enjoys hanging out with her best friends KiKi and Amanda, but isn’t as happy when Amanda’s new friend Red joins them.  When she asks her grandmother what to do, Grandma tells her that she’s like a rose who sometimes has to use her thornier nature to protect herself.  This advice serves Ryan well when she and her friends get into trouble for a camp prank that backfires and Red refuses to take responsibility.  By the end of the book, Ryan is enjoying (for the most part) fifth grade and gets to welcome her new baby sister…Rose.  192 pages; grades 2-5.

Pros:  This sequel is every bit as good as the first.  While Watson doesn’t shy away from some of the difficulties the Harts are facing, the perspective is all Ryan’s and focuses on her warm, loving family and the fun she has with her friends.  I would love to see some Newbery recognition for a book like this that is geared toward younger kids.

Cons:  I can’t find any word on book 3, but surely we’ll get to hear more about fifth grade?

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